Since the beginning of this year I am working towards my VCDX-NV submission. Back in February this year, when I finished the conceptual part of my design I wrote a blog post about my complete journey. While writing the current blogpost we have arrived in the submission week of my VCDX. Coming Friday (26th) is the deadline of the VCDX submissions that are aiming for defenses in September. I would like to explain how I experienced my journey towards submission and what I would advise to others.
Upfront I knew VCDX was something else, not only ‘a certification’ but a ‘way of living’ for a certain amount of time in your life. Of course, everyone is doing stuff on its own way, and within its own timeframes but without dedication, the VCDX certification is unfeasible in my opinion. The way to reserve dedicated time for a project or certification is starting with a proper planning. I can tell I wouldn’t be done in time before submission deadline date if I hadn’t created a proper planning prior to the journey itself. See below the high-over planning I created for the Solution Architecture design with the aimed finish dates and the actual finish dates.
Aimed finish date: 29th of February
Actual finish date: 23rd of February
Aimed finish date: 31st of March
Actual finish date: 29th of March
Aimed finish date: 30th of April
Actual finish date: 20th of May
As you can see I finished the physical design 20 days later than the initially aimed finish date date of the 30th of April. How come? This has several reasons, but the main reason for the delay was the job change I had on the 1st of April. Starting at my new employer AnyLinQ cost me a lot of time. The other reason was the underestimation of the physical design itself. However, since that date I started counting and calculating the days that were left towards submission date (26th of June). I knew I had to push hard, very hard to finish my submission kit before the 26th. The last two high-over planning items I still had were;
Supporting documentation (implementation plan, test/validation plan, installation guide and operations guide)
Aimed finish date: 19th of June
Actual finish date: 13th of June
Aimed submission date: 26th of June (DEADLINE)
Actual submission date: 23/24th of June
As you can see I pushed hard to come back from the delay I had suffered and even finished my supporting documentation before the actual finish date. And I must admit, the supporting documentation set was something else that I did underestimate upfront. Between finishing my physical design (20th of May) and finishing all of my supporting documentation I worked almost day-in day-out on my VCDX documentation. Luckily, my employer AnyLinQ is very supportive on my VCDX journey and I was able to spent time on my VCDX during my day to day job duties. Some days, and even a few days in a row I started working on it 6:30 AM in the morning and stopped around 10:00 PM in the evening. But in the end; hard work, pays off!! And I was quite within time to finish the documentation, I even had still enough time to go through all the documents with my VCDX mentor and adjust my documents to all the feedback.
Tomorrow I have my last session with my VCDX mentor Abdullah, before submitting my document kit tomorrow or the day after. Then the real nerve-wracking period will start; doing mock defenses, starting to work on my VCDX presentation and waiting for the (hopefully, *fingers-crossed*) accepted for defense e-mail from VMware itself. If my design will be accepted, I have to defend it in the week of 14-18 September.
The advise I want to give to others who are striving for the elusive VCDX certification: (prioritized)
#1. – Find a mentor! It is really important to have a mentor you can talk to and who is reviewing your work. This really helped me the most the past months.
#2. – Create a planning, but do not underestimate. I created a high-over planning, but did not think and investigate thoroughly enough how much work each task will take, and what the real expectation of a task is.
#3. – Discuss with your employer If there is a possibility to work on your VCDX certification during your day-to-day job. If I was not allowed I certainly would not have finished all my work before the submission date.
#4. – Create templates, color schemes and a recognizable way of working within your document set. Initially this will take some time, but in the end you will benefit from this and win some time. It is also more pleasant to read and to digest the information for the readers of your documents.
#5. – Invest a lot of time in reading blogs, books and listen to podcasts this really helped me as well. The books I used:
The VDI Design Guide – written by my former colleague Johan van Amersfoort
Even though I am not submitting a DTM design, the design principles that are used AND required for a VCDX design are written down in a very good way.
IT Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design – written by other VCDX certified Architects.
Podcasts I listened:
The VCDX Podcast – Hosted by double-VCDX Simon Long
Blogs I regularly used:
– VCDX series on vcdx133.com – https://vcdx133.com/2015/01/27/vcdx-series/
– VCDX supporting documents – https://www.elasticsky.co.uk/vcdx-validation-plans/
– VCDX, RCARs and AMPRS – https://www.jeffreykusters.nl/2018/06/25/breaking-down-the-conceptual-design-rcars-and-amprs-vcdx-style/
#6. – Make use of the VMware community on Twitter and Slack. This helped my when I was not sure about certain things. Everyone is more than willing to help each other.
I hope this blogpost can help somebody during his VCDX journey towards the submission or the preparation of that journey. If I can help you with anything related to this please do not hesitate to reach out.
At the end of this article I would like to emphasize how grateful I am to the VMware community and in particular to my VCDX mentor Abdullah Abdullah! I could not have done on the same level without your help and honesty!
Stay tuned for further VCDX related posts as I am now focussing on my next steps for the coming months:
– Submit (AND WAIT)
– Working on my VCDX presentation
– Doing mock defenses
– Doing the VMware Advanced Professional NSX-T 2.4 Design Exam (just because I can, and not because I must 🙂 )